Abnormal Development - Parvovirus

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Parvovirus H-1 virions.

Human parvovirus B19 (Latin, parvo = poor), infection is also called "fifth disease" and occurs mainly in children. Pets (dogs and cats) have their own animal parvoviruses that do not infect humans.

Parvovirus B19 (B19V) is the only member of the Parvoviridae family known to cause disease in humans and is a single-strand 5,594 nucleotide DNA Class II virus. The virions have a diameter of 22-25 nm and are transmitted by respiratory secretions between humans and can also cross the placenta. Virus replication requires help from either host cells or other viruses.

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Historic Embryology - Viral 
1941 Rubella Cataracts | 1944 Rubella Defects

Some Recent Findings

  • Parvovirus B19 infection in pregnancy: new insights and management.[1] "In this article, we review the virology, pathology, epidemiology and clinical spectrum of intrauterine human parvovirus B19 (B19V) infection, including intrauterine fetal death, non-immune hydrops fetalis, thrombocytopenia and neurological manifestations such as pediatric stroke and perivascular calcifications. In addition, we discuss the new insights into the neurodevelopmental outcome of intrauterine B19V infection. Current diagnosis and management of B19V infection is summarized, including a diagnostic and follow-up flowchart for practical clinical use."

Fifth Disease

Childhood parvovirus infection (erythema infectious) hand rash. (Image CDC)

Historic terminology referring to the fifth in a group of once-common childhood diseases (the other four are measles, rubella, scarlet fever and Dukes' disease) that all have similar rashes.

  1. First disease - measles
  2. Second disease - scarlet fever (Streptococcus pyogenes)
  3. Third disease - rubella
  4. Fourth disease - Dukes' disease is also a historic term for a febrile disease of childhood (suggested as Staphylococcus aureus)
  5. Fifth disease - Parvovirus


Yvonne Cossart

Professor Yvonne Cossart (University of Sydney, Bosch Professor of Infectious Diseases)

Yvonne Cossart coined the nomenclature "B19", from the well on a microtitre (microtiter) plate where the virus antigen was first discovered in blood.[2] Microtitre plates are generally organised by rows (alphabetically) and columns (numerically).

"A parvovirus-like antigen has been found in sera of nine healthy blood-donors and two patients. Its pathogenicity is unknown, but 30% of adults possess specific antibody. The new agent can be confused with hepatitis-B antigen both morphologically and serologically."

Hydrops Fetalis

The following information is based on infection in a pregnant woman followed by transplacental transmission to the fetus.[3]

  • Most parvovirus B19 infections during pregnancy do not lead to loss of the fetes.
    • estimated 30% risk of transplacental infection among women who are infected with parvovirus B19 during pregnancy
  • Transmission to the fetus can lead to miscarriage or hydrops fetalis.
    • estimated 5 to 9 % risk of fetal loss.
  • Infection during the second trimester poses the greatest risk of hydrops fetalis.
  • Parvovirus infects the fetal liver that is involved with early erythrocyte production.
  • Seroprevalence data indicate that about half of pregnant women are susceptible to parvovirus infection.


  1. <pubmed>21351281</pubmed>
  2. <pubmed>46024</pubmed>
  3. <pubmed>14762186</pubmed>




<pubmed>19335188</pubmed> <pubmed>19786782</pubmed> <pubmed>18464909</pubmed> <pubmed>17252527</pubmed> <pubmed>12583652</pubmed> <pubmed>10770616</pubmed> <pubmed>9325515</pubmed>

Search Pubmed

June 2010

Search Pubmed: Parvovirus B19 | fifth disease | Parvovirus

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, May 18) Embryology Abnormal Development - Parvovirus. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Abnormal_Development_-_Parvovirus

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© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G